From the age of twelve Ward received intensive training in reproductive printmaking from John Raphael Smith and his own brother William. In great demand by the turn of the eighteenth century, Ward was appointed mezzotint engraver to the Prince of Wales (later George IV). During the 1790s he took up oil painting and experimented with rustic genre scenes under the influence of his brother-in-law George Morland. Denied admission to the Royal Academy Schools in 1797, Ward embarked on a programme of self-education. A prestigious commission from the new Board of Agriculture for two hundred oil portraits of British livestock marked a breakthrough. The Board’s second president Lord Somerville became a committed patron, commissioning the Galleries’s two ambitious Borders landscapes. From 1805 Ward was regularly employed as a portraitist of pedigree horses, culminating in the lithographed series Celebrated Horses (1823-34). Elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy in 1807, he was recognized as the leading animal painter of his generation. Landscape, into which he had diversified around 1803 in emulation of Rubens, remained a compelling interest - likewise, although less convincingly, history painting. His outstanding achievement in landscape was Gordale Scar (about 1812-14, Tate), one of the finest British visualizations of the aesthetics of the Sublime.